Coal seam gas plans to be fought by council

Alec English

Alec English

Albury Council has submitted an objection to coal seam gas to the NSW government.

It comes after Albury resident and farmer Alec English met mayor Kevin Mack and council’s director of planning Michael Keys to express concerns about coal seam gas exploration in the Riverina.

“It pollutes your land and water irreversibly,” Mr English said.

“I’ve got an irrigation farm at Deniliquin and I don’t want that to turn into a wasteland and I don’t want the Riverina to turn into a wasteland.”

Coal seam gas is natural gas in the earth and can be extracted by “fracking”, a hydraulic fracturing process, which can pollute groundwater.

Mr English met Cr Mack and Mr Keys last Monday to raise his concerns as other councils in the Riverina grapple with the issue.

Cr Mack said the Albury area was on the fringe of land that would be of interest for coal seam gas exploration companies and the council would not need to put in place a coal seam gas-free zone.

“There are only very few areas north of Albury that would be something they would spoil,” Cr Mack said.

“It’s more about Urana, Oaklands and Corowa.”

Cr Mack said the council made a submission to the government supporting affected councils in their push against it and expressed the council’s objection to the fracking process and exploration.

“It’s a fairly dangerous process,” he said.

The NSW Resources and Energy Minister rejected five coal seam gas exploration licences earlier this month that covered a vast area of land in the Riverina.

Wagga Council also put in place coal seam gas-free zones last month.

It comes as two-kilometre buffers were placed around residential zones to future growth areas to 56 council areas, including Albury.

Mr English, who holds a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, said he would continue lobbying local councils and raising awareness so coal seam gas is not explored in the area.

“People think it only occurs way out west, but it’s here and now,” he said.